A Conversation with Dr. Henry Sobo: Integrative Medicine for Optimal Health
We sat down with Dr. Henry Sobo of Optimal Health Medical in Stamford to learn more about his approach to keeping patients happy and well.
How does your practice differ from a conventional medical practice?
We supplement conventional medical approaches with more natural, less toxic treatments and less medications where possible. People interested in natural therapies often try to find a doctor like myself because sometimes there are cases where medication must be used. If their health professional doesn’t have a medical license, they can only do natural, holistic therapies. So, for more immediate, serious health issues, they need to find another practitioner. My patients feel they get the best of both worlds with me. I am licensed to use medications if we need to, yet I recommend more natural approaches as well.
What made you decide to practice integrative medicine?
I found some conditions were not being treated effectively by conventional medicine. For example, irritable bowel syndrome—we simply don’t do much about it. There is medication now that addresses the constipation symptom, but it doesn’t really change anything except that it relieves constipation. In my experience, the majority of people suffering from IBS have significant food sensitivities. That led me, in part, to this type of medicine. Even if you are the best gastroenterologist in the world, if your field doesn’t really consider food sensitivities, then you won’t consider it when treating patients.
In terms of what our practice does, it’s a very broad spectrum. We see many patients with allergies, as well as food sensitivities, which we feel still is not adequately addressed in conventional medical circles. For conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, migraines, chronic fatigue, and fibromyalgia, conventional medicine doesn’t correlate them with food sensitivities, but I’ve seen many patients experience relief when they avoid certain foods.
What other types of treatments do you provide?
Other therapies we practice include stem cell treatment, bio-identical hormone replacement, peptides, intravenous vitamin therapy, and nutritional testing.
One treatment many of our patients try is platelet-rich plasma (PRP). This is an injection for joints—knees, shoulders, ankles. For some people, it may help them avoid surgery. We draw a person’s own blood, create a concentrated solution of platelets and inject it into the joint to help arthritis, rotator cuff tears, knee ligament problems, and similar issues. It’s a very well-known treatment, even though technically speaking it’s still considered experimental and generally is not covered by insurance.
The conventional medical approach to these issues would be prescribing pain medication, but of course, while that reduces the pain, it does nothing to alleviate the actual condition. Then, with the conventional approach, when the medication is not enough to relieve pain, the patient may choose surgery. Sometimes that’s successful, but sometimes there can be side effects and continued pain. PRP offers patients a more natural way to handle joint pain.
Other than the treatments you offer, what makes your approach different from a conventional medical doctor?
In conventional medicine, you visit a doctor because something is wrong; he gives you a diagnosis, then recommends a drug, treatment, or surgery. If you are sick, you get treated for your illness.
My practice is called “Optimal Health Medical.” The kind of person who goes to an integrative medical practice is a little more proactive; they want to be as healthy as they can be, and they seek advice to make that happen, rather than wait until they have no choice. In integrative medicine, we’re trying to optimize your health status. That’s a very basic difference in outlook.
Many of my patients find my practice because they’ve been looking into alternative, more natural treatments—they’ve done their research and they find me through recommendations.
For someone who prefers not to take medications or elect for surgery, when might they need to consider conventional options?
I’ll give you a very simple example: Let’s say a person has high blood pressure, and they’d like to avoid taking medication. Question #1 is, are you overweight? The majority of people who get a high blood pressure diagnosis are overweight. Rather than changing their lifestyle, they go on medication and that’s the end of it. But they really can do something about it, if they want to take charge of their health.
But with some patients, we may try weight loss, supplementation, vitamins, herbs, minerals, and the patient still has high blood pressure. Then I will advise them to take medication. I have the judgment and the experience to help them make that decision.
It’s not a matter of which condition a patient has, but the severity. For example, let’s say you’re driving down the highway and your car crashes. When the EMTs and the ambulance arrive, how many people are going to say, don’t give me any drugs or treat my injuries? In the same way, if someone has a very severe case of high blood pressure where they need to go to an ER for an IV to stabilize it, there is no time to help them lose weight first.
Now on the other side of the coin, if a patient has high cholesterol, they are not going to keel over tomorrow. There’s time to consider if they want to take medication for 30 years to relieve it or if they want to take a more holistic, gradual approach.
What do you find most rewarding about your practice?
It’s quite exciting when a patient is considering surgery, but you offer them a more natural treatment that works, and they tell you how much it helped them. I feel great when I accomplish that. But even if it never got to the level of needing surgery, simply helping them get back to pain-free knees? That’s a big deal in a person’s life.
Optimal Health Medical is located at 111 High Ridge Rd, Stamford. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 203-348-8805 or visit DrSobo.com. See ad, page 19.